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Published February 10, 1997 | Published
Journal Article Open

Dynamics of gas-driven eruptions: Experimental simulations using CO_2-H_2O-polymer system


We report exploratory experiments simulating gas-driven eruptions using the CO_2 - H_2O system at room temperature as an analog of natural eruptive systems. The experimental apparatus consists of a test cell and a large tank. Initially, up to 1.0 wt % of CO_2 is dissolved in liquid water under a pressure of up to 735 kPa in the test cell. The experiment is initiated by suddenly reducing the pressure of the test cell to a typical tank pressure of 10 kPa. The following are the main results: (1) The style of the process depends on the decompression ratio. There is a threshold decompression ratio above which rapid eruption occurs. (2) During rapid eruption, there is always fragmentation at the liquid-vapor interface. Fragmentation may also occur in the flow interior. (3) Initially, the top of the erupting column ascends at a constant acceleration (instead of constant velocity). (4) Average bubble radius grows as t^(2/3). (5) When viscosity is 20 times that of pure water or greater, a static foam may be stable after expansion to 97% vesicularity. The experiments provide several insights into natural gas-driven eruptions, including (1) the interplay between bubble growth and ascent of the erupting column must be considered for realistic modeling of bubble growth during gas-driven eruptions, (2) buoyant rise of the bubbly magma is not necessary during an explosive volcanic eruption, and (3) CO_2-driven limnic eruptions can be explosive. The violence increases with the initial CO_2 content dissolved in water.

Additional Information

© 1997 American Geophysical Union. Received 12 April 1996; accepted 14 October 1996; published 10 February 1997. D. Pyle was initially involved in this project, and we thank him for his contribution. We thank A. Proussevitch and D.L. Sahagian for making the bubble growth program available and K.V. Cashman, W. Nash, and K. Wohletz for insightful and constructive comments. Y.Z. thanks X. Feng for numerous discussions and help. This research is partially supported by NSF grants EAR-9304161 and EAR-9458368 and DOE grant DE-FG03-85ER1344.

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